Reflections From the Empty Nest

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By Pastor Martin Schlomer

Something weird happened yesterday! Our youngest son, Wesley, turned 21 and moved away … permanently. He took all (or almost all) of his earthly possessions and headed north to Bellingham, WA. Some of you may be thinking, “Martin, he moved out last September to attend WWU! Did you forget?” This time is different. He isn’t returning to WWU. He has a full-time job at Lynden Door. I woke up this morning with this thought, “He’s not coming home! Puyallup is no longer home! Have I prepared him?”

I must say that, by the grace of God, all three of my sons love and serve Jesus. I can’t ask for anything more. As a Dad, this is the most important value and priority to me. I’ve watched God change them, challenge them and mature them. This reality overwhelms me with emotional gratitude.

Looking back, would I do anything different? You bet! There is one thing I would do that rises above everything else. I would affirm them more for their character than for their accomplishments. You can have great accomplishments but lack character. This doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t celebrate accomplishments; however, we need to keep the emphasis on what is most important. This is Peter’s point in 2 Peter 1.5-8. If we keep our focus on building their character in increasing measure, this character will keep them from being ineffective and unproductive in their knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 8).

As I look to my future with my sons, daughter-in-law, and grandchild, my focus will be affirming them in their character. Two weeks ago, on a whim, I wrote a Facebook post affirming the character I saw in one of my sons. I was amazed at the overwhelming and positive response! It shouldn’t surprise me. Almost everyone I know is hungry for encouragement in things that matter. I urge all of us to take our children aside this week and affirm the character we see developing in their lives! It makes a difference. Proverbs says our word carry the power of life or death. Use your words to bring life!

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